Who has authority to ask for quality reduction?

Last post 05:49 am January 31, 2016
by Bartek Kobylecki
5 replies
11:48 am January 28, 2016

In "Software in 30 days" one can read:

"Customers often pressure development organizations to deliver features faster than is feasible Some organizations accommodate this by reducing the quality of the product, dropping re-factoring, cutting test efforts and other solid engineering practices. This is not supportable within Scrum practices since the system or product is a corporate asset [...]",

and few lines further:

"To avoid this [cost of substantial rewrite and re-release of the code base - T.N.], only the senior levels of an organization can make an asset decision for reducing quality."

Please help me understand what was Ken Schwaber's intention here. For now I take it as follows: if there is a company-wide quality standard, which everyone in company should adhere to - no one on ST is allowed to compromise it. Only senior management of the company can ask the DT to reduce quality (even if DT is going to suffer from it).

When there is no such standard in place, then it's up to DT to decide about their engineering practices. Again, only senior management (not a PO) is authorized to change it.

Is that the right thinking?

01:28 pm January 28, 2016

See if you can correlate your interpretation to the advice given in the Scrum Guide, specifically with regard to the organisational Definition of Done and how a team crafts its own DoD.

05:33 am January 29, 2016

I believe my interpretation is in correlation with the Scrum Guide. It says:

"If the definition of "done" for an increment is part of the conventions, standards or guidelines of the development organization, all Scrum Teams must follow it as a minimum. If "done" for an increment is not a convention of the development organization, the Development Team of the Scrum Team must define a definition of “done” appropriate for the product."

Please let me know otherwise.

Assuming that it's the case - DoD is not a convention and ST defined it - the senior management can step in and ask to reduce quality standard. In particular senior management can ask the ST to drop some of DoD items. Correct?
BTW, that would mean the organization can set "the maximum" for DoD as well.

07:32 am January 29, 2016

Where a Product is a corporate asset, senior management are accountable for the quality of that asset. They should assert the level of quality they expect in the Definition of Done and teams must respect that level of quality as a minimum. They can't make their own up. The level to which they exceed that minimum in their DoD is, of course, up to them.

In other words, individual teams cannot define inferior levels of quality in a DoD which would compromise the organisational standard. The teams are not "garage startups" doing their own thing, working in isolation of a corporate entity. They are part of that entity, and so the quality standards of the enterprise must be observed. This is necessary in order to maintain control of the risks to branding, commercial reputation, integration with other corporate products, funding arrangements, service level agreements and many other factors.

07:45 am January 29, 2016

NB organisational standards are a tricky thing to tease apart in an agile transformation, as they are often conflated with established cultural practices which then become barriers to transition. For example, isolating Scrum practices to a Development Stage is often cited as being a matter of organisational "quality"...especially where the current understanding of quality is expressed in terms of stage gates. An organisational DoD can help clarify the genuine dimensions of product or service quality, and expose which of the organisation's limiting practices are in fact matters of culture.

05:49 am January 31, 2016

Thanks Ian, that's helpful.

Organizational DoD sounds like a good concept.